17 Days in Europe – Day 12 The Schilthorn

By 22nd August 2017Europe17

Do you think that it’s possible to draw strength from our surroundings?  I mean, not a physical ‘pick up a car’ superman strength, but a positive thinking, bouncy, spring in the step type of strength.  Scientists have recently discovered that certain plants not only get their energy from photosynthesis but from other plants around them.  Is that true of humans?

If is was, this place would be a nuclear power plant of energy.  Today we took a ride up to the Schilthorn.  The journey would take us from Grindelwald through to Lauterbrunnen, up to Murren and then on higher and higher to the Schilthorn.  The return journey would see us walk along the mountainside to the very end of the Lauterbrunnen valley, back down to the ground and then all the way back to the town of Lauterbrunnen.  Now Yes I understand that these are all just names, mostly unpronounceable names.  But for me now, they bring back the most amazing memories.  And are possibly the most beautiful places that I have ever visited.

I’ll not bore you with all of the details of the journey but here are a few key pieces of information –

  • Keep left.  If you are travelling from Lauterbrunnen to the Schilthorn, no matter what transport you get on – cable cars or trains or buses, stay on the left hand side – these are the best views.  If you are travelling via Train from Grindelwald the same principle is true.
  • Make it a circular route.  If you are up for a full days activities, instead of travelling back the way you came, walk down from Murren station to the end of the Lauterbrunnen valley – about 30 – 60 minutes.  Get the cable car to the ground and then walk the full length of the valley back to the Lauterbrunnen train station.  On the way you can visit the Trummelbach falls in the middle of the valley.  If you get really tired you can pick up the bus there back to the town.
  • Check the weather.  Like so many trips in this area, if you see clouds on the top of the mountains, think really hard about going.  The weather could make or break this trip.
  • Charge your camera batteries.  This is a serious photo snap trip.
  • Wrap up warm.  It can be boiling hot in the valley and freezing on the mountain.  Take water with you as well, perhaps even some snacks.

The trip really begins when the cable car starts to lift you out of Lauterbrunnen and you get a glimpse of the valley.

Once at the top, you change to a train (remember – keep left!) and possibly the most beautiful train ride in the world takes you along the mountain edge to the small car free village of Murren.  The views of the Monch, Jungfrau and Eiger are spectacular.

At this point you don’t really want to get off the train.  It’s only the prospect of continuing onto the Schilthorn that makes you do it.

Cleverly, the train station is at the North end of Murren and the cable car to the Schilthorn is at the South.  So you have to walk the entire village to continue.  But is it worth it – what an incredible place!

And it let’s me nip into the local corner shop and buy some Lindt chocolate.  How could you not.  There are a mix of cafes, hotels and shops here.  Nothing massively touristy.  They cater well for both those who are just passing through, locals and those who have decided to spend a few nights here.  I wonder what it would be like in the evenings, when the stream of tourists are gone, there are no cars, only the mountains and stars to stare at.

We board the cable car which will first take us to Birg.  Recently they have built a walk that is bolted onto the side of the mountain, like a suspended metal path.  Not for the faint hearted.  Not only that, but there are sections made out of glass, mesh and tight ropes.

I love stuff like this.  Marcus does too.  Charlotte has that fight or flight instinct but goes for it.  She concentrates more on the danger of it going wrong though, rather than the thrill of it going well.  Marcus is in his element.  What it must be like to live with no fear, apprehension or comprehension of danger.  Absolute trust in someone else to look after you.  That gives him a special sort of strength that we are all jealous of.

This last section, the one in the picture with the mesh tunnel is terrifying.  Not only is it awkward to get in, it hurts your knees, it is exposed to the elements, moves with the wind and is a sheer drop directly below you.  Somehow this makes it irresistible to Marcus.  “Again again again” he shouts

“Wait for Mum” I reply, attempting to put off another trip through it.

“Again Again”

“In a minute”

“Pease Dad pease”

And so it goes on.  I think I did this tunnel 3 times and Wendy twice.  And still he would have kept going.

The walkway ends with a little scramble back up the mountain side and then to the start point.  We are able to draw our breath here, people watch, take in the view and gather our strength for the next part of the trip.

From here, the cable car lifts you up higher to the Schilthorn and the Piz Gloria restaurant.  The place was made famous in a James Bond film so there are a number of Bond themed things on the go when you get there.  Props from the film, statues, music and other tatt.  But if it wasn’t for the Bond movie, this wouldn’t have been possible.  It was the movie that paid for the renovation of the restaurant building and subsequent cable car improvements, which in turn boosted the tourism bringing in more money and investment.

I’m not complaining.  This place is amazing.  The views are spectacular – we can see right across to Mont Blanc where we had been just a few days before.  We even saw a Golden Eagle on the way.  What’s not to be happy about.

We do that crazy run around and take loads of pictures thing that we do when we are excited and then we gradually calm down and do the circuit again at a more leisurely pace.  Charlotte even has time for a hand stand or two.

I walk round and let the camera do its thing.

From here we go back down to Birg again and stop off for some food.  Wendy helps a lady around the walkway who is too scared to do it herself and her husband has also bottled out!

Then we continue down to Murren.  Now for a walk to Stechelberg station down the mountain side.  The path is safe but steep and winds through countryside, tiny little collections of houses and farms, past honesty shops and then onto the cable car station at the very southern most part of the valley.  Having done this descent before we know that it is essential to be at the very front of the cable car that takes you down into the valley.  I’ll not spoil it, but it is thrilling!

I mean what is not to like about that view as you walk down to Stechelberg!

Now we are on the valley floor.  It seems like from every angle the view is impressive.  We are at the base of the very mountains that we were just looking straight across at.

The valley has a river running through the centre, waterfalls running off the sides of the cliffs, white topped mountains at beginning and end, and lush green grass throughout.

Although we are all tired at this point, and hot, you get that renewed sense of strength again.  Something new to explore and experience.

At roughly the half way point we stop at the Trummelbach falls – waterfalls inside the mountain.  Yes, inside the mountain.  We have done this experience before so opt out with the kids – it is not pram friendly, but our friends go in as it was a first for them.

We take the time to drink beer and eat cakes at the cafe just staring at the view – now that’s a coffee stop!

The last leg of the trip walks us through the rest of the valley, through the town of Lauterbrunnen and then back on the train home.  Tired and weary.  But somehow exhilarated.  What a day!  I would recommend it to anyone.

 

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